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Empty restaurant tables for Valentine's Day, Source: Háttér Társaság (Background Society)

Budapest restaurants leave a table for LGBTQ couples afraid to celebrate in public

Budapest restaurants leave a table for LGBTQ couples afraid to celebrate in public

According to local advocacy groups, homophobic displays are on the rise in recent times

Empty tables with rainbow-coloured candles and a message saying that an LGBTQ couple is missing graced restaurants in Budapest yesterday. The initiative was launched by Budapest Pride and the Háttér Társaság (Background Society) to draw attention to the thousands of couples that could not celebrate Valentine’s Day in public, out of fear.

A total of 35 restaurants in the Hungarian capital have joined the initiative, leaving a seat at the table. Furthermore, 50 celebrities and influencers have picked up the message, spreading it on social media.

The recent spike in hate crimes

The Background Society is the oldest Hungarian LGBTQ non-governmental organisation and they provide legal help, as well as information on coming-out, family, school or work conflicts. They also have an HIV/AIDS programme and a research team.

According to their research, hate crimes in Hungary are on the rise in recent years. In 2021, people looking for legal help from the Background Society have risen by 25%.

Moreover, the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency conducted a survey, that claims that, in 2019, 72% of Hungarian same-sex couples avoided public spaces due to fear. At the same time, 25% of couples said they had not experienced discrimination in the hospitality sector until last year.

Luca Dudits, administrator of the Background Society was quoted in a press release, saying: “We tend to forget how LGBTQI people suffer everyday discrimination. We work for a Hungary where everyone can walk freely and safely in the park or sit in for dinner with their partner.”

A heated political issue

LGBTQ rights have become a heated political topic in Hungary recently, especially with the national election coming up on 3 April. The election will also come with a referendum on the controversial anti-LGBTQ law, banning the promotion or portrayal of same-sex couples in school.

With Victor Orban’s Fidesz party looking for support among the Hungarian public and the opposition’s coalition uniting in a bid for the government, this election would try to tackle multiple hot topics at once.

Here are the questions for the anti-LGBTQ referendum:

  1. Do you support that minors should attend school classes on the topic of sexual orientation without parental consent?
  2. Do you support promoting gender change treatments among minors?
  3. Do you support that gender reassignment surgery should be available to minors?
  4. Do you support that sexual media content influencing development should be presented to minors without restriction?
  5. Do you support that media content depicting gender change should be presented to minors?

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